As a keen Elgarian, brought up just a few hundred yards from where Elgar
lived here in the UK, can I say I honestly don't think you are meant to hear
either hunting or battle in the Enigma variation Elgar titled 'Nimrod'. It
was not a tone poem in that sense. Rather, each of the Variations was
intended to capture the character of one of several of the friends of Elgar
and his wife Alice.
Variation 9 was no exception. The sounds you hear are meant to capture the
essence of someone Elgar had huge respect for, whose noble character Elgar
wanted to enshrine in tribute. It was titled 'Nimrod' because of a
literary pun. Elgar's main publisher was Novello, and they appointed a young
man of German extraction, Augustus Jaeger to be the music editor and agent
who had to liaise on a day-to-day basis with one of their premier composers.
Elgar loved puns and 'japes' - practical jokes. He was also a man of typical
Victorian understatement. It was not done to give a piece of music a literal
title. So, rather than prosaically give the variation the title of his
"go-between", however indebted he felt to him, instead, he punned on the
meaning of Augustus' surname in German - Jäger meaning hunter - and showed
his wide knowledge of the Scriptures by using the cryptic name Nimrod, whom
he expected those who thought about it to be intelligent and wide-read
enough to solve the puzzle by remembering the Biblical character was 'a
mighty HUNTER before the Lord'.
I hope this helps, and counters the mis-information of another of our
biblicalist circle who has just chipped in with a quick answer, and whose
theological expertise is surely better than his musical memory!
(One of the Anglican clergy who follows these threads, and a member of the
----- Original Message -----
From: "Christopher Heard" <christopher.heard@...>
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2011 6:04 PM
Subject: [biblicalist] Pulling Nimrod out of the pit
On Apr 6, 2011, at 9:48 AM, George F Somsel wrote:
> As I said, I SUBLIMINALLY noted the reference to Esau but substituted
> Nimrod. I
> nevertheless felt a certain dis-ease regarding the reference. Your post
> me to recognize why I was uncomfortable with the reference.
I understood that, George. I was trying to be funny with my comment about
the bird dogs. I seem to have failed. This is why I do not make my living as
a stand-up comedian.
To bring this reply almost on-topic, my current research concerns the
reception history of Genesis, about as broadly conceived as possible. During
the course of that investigation, I've listened to various performance of
Sir Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations #9, "Nimrod," about a bazillion times.
I simply don't "hear" Nimrod in the music. It's so stately and serene, full
of "gravitas"-I don't hear hunting and battle, which is what I generally
associate with Nimrod. Any biblicalisters got an idea what I'm missing, or
what I'm doing wrong? Should I be thinking more about "kingship"? (I admit
to having an unskilled ear and not much training in "reading" classical
music. Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan I "get.")
Associate Professor of Religion
Malibu, CA 90263-4352
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Yahoo! Groups Links